Lucky To Be Alive, Let Alone Walking

Alex Shelly
Surgeon: Dr. Matthew Gerlach
Physical Therapist: Katharina Altgelt
Reason for orthopedic care: spinal fusion

Alex Shelly - Dr. Gerlach Review

Alex Shelly is lucky to be alive, let alone walking.

On July 5th, 2014 Alex and her grandfather were vacationing with a group of friends at the St. Anthony Sand Dunes in Idaho.

There were six riders spread across five off-road vehicles, two of the drivers were blinded by the sun and drove off a cliff.  “When the light hits the sand a certain way you can’t see the shadows.  My grandpa thought the sand kept going but that is when we went off the 20 foot cliff,” Alex explained.

When the vehicle went airborne it also inverted causing it to land on the roof, crushing the roll cage along with the driver (grandpa) and passenger (Alex).  When they hit the ground they bounced so hard the vehicle flipped back over onto its wheels.

Alex doesn’t remember the accident, “All I remember was lying on my side,” Alex explained. “I looked down and there was a big gash on my leg.  I could see the RZR (vehicle) and I could see my grandpa’s feet.”

The duo waited in the hot sand for help to come. After four hours, Alex and her grandfather were sent to the closest hospital via Flight for Life.  They spent the next four days in ICU where both were diagnosed with multiple fractured vertebrae and broken ribs. The driver of the other vehicle was in better condition: she was diagnosed with a crushed jaw.

When the duo was released from the hospital they came back to Colorado and Alex sought out the medical guidance of Dr. Matthew Gerlach.   Alex was in a back brace and checked in with Dr. Gerlach every two weeks so he could monitor her progress.  “They sent her home in a brace because her vertebrae were stable,” Dr. Gerlach explained.  “Putting her in a brace was the right thing to do initially.  I continued her in a brace but as time passed her pain wasn’t getting any better and her curve (in her back) was showing progression.”

“My spine had a 60 degree curve,” Alex said.   “The curve was originally a genetic issue (known as Scheuermann’s disease) but increased because of the accident…  I would eventually have to have surgery (to correct the disease), the accident made that surgery happen sooner,” Alex explained.

On September 3, 2014 Dr. Gerlach fused 13 vertebrae (T2-L2), yet less than two weeks later, Alex insisted she return to her senior year of high school.

Today Alex is out of her wheel chair, graduated high school and is working toward her goal of becoming a hair dresser.   She hopes to return to off-roading in the future.

Alex’s grandfather is still in physical therapy; nonetheless his spirits are high and he has returned to almost 100% of the life he had prior to the accident.

*Scheuermann’s disease, or Scheuermann’s kyphosis, is a condition in which the normal roundback in the upper spine (called a kyphosis) is increased. Many people with Scheuermann’s disease will have an increased roundback deformity (e.g. a hunch back or hump back) but no pain.  *

For more information about Dr. Matthew Gerlach please visit

Matthew Gerlach MD

Dr. Matthew Gerlach – Orthopedic Spine Surgeon at Front Range Orthopedics & Spine

Innovations In The Treatment Of Hip And Knee Arthritis: A Patient Oriented Apprach


This event with Dr. William Cooney is open to the public and free of charge. 

A RSVP is not required but is appreciated. 

To RSVP please call 303.485.4184 or go to

More about this event with Dr. William Cooney: 

Hip and knee arthritis affects people of all ages, Dr. Cooney, as a Sports Medicine and Joint Replacement Specialist who has performed over 3,000 surgeries, will share his unique perspective in helping patients with hip and knee arthritis regain their active lifestyles.  This talk, as well as a question and answer segment, will address innovations in both surgical and nonsurgical management of hip and knee arthritis pain. 

For more information about Dr. Cooney please click here. 

This community event is presented by: logo with LUH web, phone bold- 7453


Two New Orthopedic Doctors Join Front Range Orthopedics & Spine

Dr. Shah and Dr. Wood join Front Range Orthopedics & Spine

Dr. Shah and Dr. Wood join Front Range Orthopedics & Spine

Front Range Orthopedics & Spine is pleased to welcome two board-certified and fellowship trained orthopedic specialists to the group:Dr. Nirav Shah and Dr. Peter Wood.  With the addition of Shah and Wood, Front Range Orthopedics now has 15 providers.

“As Longmont grows it is natural we must grow in order to meet the needs of our community,” commented Dave Demchuk, Front Range Orthopedics & Spine CEO.  “We are pleased to welcome Dr. Shah and Dr. Wood to our practice.  With the addition of these two physicians it takes us to the next level of exceptional care we are able to deliver to the Longmont community and the Colorado Front Range.  Dr. Shah and Dr. Wood both bring with them a well-deserved reputation which adds to our respected group of surgeons this community has access to.”

Dr. Shah and Dr. Wood are both fellowship-trained orthopedic sports medicine specialists who have been in the Longmont community for several years.   Dr. Shah has been practicing in Longmont since 2011 while Dr. Wood has been practicing in Longmont since 1997.

Dr. Shah will be holding clinic in Longmont, Frederick and Lafayette.  Dr. Wood will be holding clinic in Longmont and Frederick.

About Front Range Orthopedics & Spine: Front Range Orthopedics & Spine is dedicated to comprehensive care that empowers patients to keep their bodies in pace with their passions.  With over 42 years in the business and more than 150 years of combined experience, our team of doctors are truly dedicated to ensuring patients receive the highest quality orthopedic care and guidance.  We also understand that proper patient care may take more than one doctor, so our focus is on helping the patient gain access to all doctors and services necessary for a safe and full recovery.  In keeping with our pursuit of excellent, comprehensive health care, we are honored to serve as the orthopedic anchor in Longmont, Frederick and at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette.

Clinic locations

Longmont: 1551 Professional Lane, Ste 200

Lafayette: 300 Exempla Cir, Ste 200

Frederick: 4943 Highway 52, Ste 180

For appointments: 303.772.1600

Nirav Shah, M.D.

Dr. Nirav Shah attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where he received his B.A. in Economics.  He went to medical school at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, and received his M.D. in 2005. Dr. Shah went on to complete a residency in Orthopedic Surgery at the Washington School of Medicine and then completed a fellowship in Sports Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute. Dr. Shah was a team physician for several high school and college sports teams. He is a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine. Dr. Shah is a well-recognized joint replacement surgeon in Colorado, specializing in shoulder replacements, hip replacements and knee replacements.

Dr. Shah joined Front Range Orthopedics & Spine in January of 2015; nonetheless, he has been practicing in Longmont and Boulder County since 2011.  Dr. Shah looks forward to continuing his practice along the Front Range where he lives by his orthopedic care philosophy of “less is more”.

For more information about Dr. Shah, please visit:

Peter D. Wood, M.D.

Dr. Peter Wood is originally from Pasadena, California and is a graduate of the University of California San Diego, he holds a B.S. in biochemistry. Dr. Wood continued on to receive his medical degree and complete an internship and residency at the University of California at the San Diego School of Medicine. He then completed a fellowship in sports medicine at Emory University.  Prior to moving to the Longmont area, Dr. Wood served as Chief of the Orthopedics Department at the Woodland Medical Group in Woodland, California. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery and is a board certified orthopedic surgeon.  Dr. Wood has been delivering outstanding orthopedic care to the communities of Longmont and Boulder County since 1997.  Dr. Wood enjoys treating patients from age two to 102 as “it keeps everyday interesting”.  Dr. Wood is also a highly regarded joint replacement surgeon, specializing in knee replacements, hip replacements and shoulder replacements.  He has a natural connection with his joint replacement patients as he too has two hip replacements.

Prior to medical school Dr. Wood served in our U.S. Army for two years.  In his spare time he enjoys his family and the Colorado outdoors.

For more information about Dr. Wood, please visit:

Dr. FitzGibbons and Dr. Koldenhoven Receive Awards

Dr. Robert FitzGibbons (left) and Dr. Gregg Koldenhoven (right) receive medals from Dr. Richard Juday.

Dr. Robert FitzGibbons (left) and Dr. Gregg Koldenhoven (right) receive medals from Dr. Richard Juday.

Front Range Orthopedics & Spine patient, Dr. Richard Juday, awarded Dr. FitzGibbons and Dr. Koldenhoven with his medals he recently won at the 2014 Badminton State Games.

“You’ve heard of ‘re-gifting’ an item at Christmas?  Well, I am expressing my gratitude most recently by ‘re-awarding’ my medals from the July 2014 State Games.” Dr. Juday explained. “The doctors at Front Range have allowed me to maintain a happy and active lifestyle.”

Dr. Juday has been playing competitive badminton, on a national level, since 1960.  “A lifetime sport is good for you but it takes a toll on the body; nonetheless, I can’t stress enough the importance of having a lifetime sport,” Dr. Juday said. Moreover, Front Range Orthopedics & Spine surgeons have contributed to Dr. Juday’s ability to continue to play badminton, hike Colorado’s mountains, mow the lawn and generally keep up with his wife.

Recently Dr. Juday and his wife went on a backpacking trip:  12 miles round trip; 40 pound packs; 2,700 feet in elevation gain.  His left knee (with the replacement) handled the trek like a champ, “I don’t even think about that knee.  It’s strong, stable and pain free,” Dr. Juday commented.  Nonetheless, Dr. Juday is now having issues with his right knee.  Currently, Dr. Koldenhoven is helping manage his right knee with cortisone injections.  There may be a right knee replacement in the future, but Dr. Juday doesn’t seem concerned.

2014 Colorado Badminton Champion, Dr. Richard Juday (in green).

2014 Colorado Badminton Champion, Dr. Richard Juday (in green).

Dr. Juday has lived, and continues to live, life to the fullest.    His confidence in the doctors and staff at Front Range Orthopedics & Spine are proving to meet and exceed his expectations as a patient.  To date he is a patient of Dr. FitzGibbons, Dr. Koldenhoven and Dr. Pater (Dr. Pater has performed a trigger finger release for Dr. Juday).

*Dr. Richard Juday, an electrical engineer retired after 35 years at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, is the beneficiary of having been taught a lifetime sport, badminton, in his undergraduate days at Rice University.  Although badminton is not the first sport that might come to mind when one hears the word “racquet”, it ranks first among the racquet sports (including tennis, table tennis, squash, and racquetball) when champion-level players have been monitored for heart rate.  These conditions make it so demanding: Play is continuous rather than having, say, all the ball-thumping associated with preparation for service in tennis; the shuttle is hit in the air without being allowed to bounce; the court is open rather than have walls to return the projectile into play, as in racquetball; the court is artfully just so large that a player can barely cover it; effective offensive play is to cause your opponent to move the greatest distance; and service is designedly defensive, to start a long rally in which a positional advantage must be developed, rather than making service aces possible.  

CMC Arthroplasty – Anne Returns To Her Hobbies

Anne Schmitt returns to her hobbies following her CMC Arthroplasty surgery. CMC arthroplasty of the thumb is the common surgical procedure used to treat arthritis of the base of the thumb.

Anne Schmitt returns to her hobbies following her CMC Arthroplasty surgery. CMC arthroplasty of the thumb is the common surgical procedure used to treat arthritis of the base of the thumb.

Anne Schmitt has been playing the piano since she was a little girl.  She also knits, gardens and shows her Australian Shepherds.  As pain started developing in her thumbs, she eventually had to give up the things she enjoyed, “I started getting pain in my thumbs all the time… even picking up a piece of paper would trigger excruciating pain.” 

Anne tried injections and therapy to ease her pain but nothing seemed to help.  “The pain and dysfunction were interfering with my life.  When I couldn’t knit or garden, I knew it was time for surgery.”

In order to get back to the life Anne enjoyed she elected to have surgery, which would provide permanent relief of pain and return to function. 

Following Anne’s surgery, the recovery was five months, “I was in a cast for five weeks and a splint for four weeks.  Dr. Pater warned me that the recovery was long and would be frustrating at times,” Anne said.   Recovery did prove to be frustrating for Anne; nonetheless, as time passed she was gaining function and gratefulness.  “Dr. Pater is my hero because he has made such a difference in my life,” Anne commented.

Today you can find Anne working in her garden or grooming her Aussies.  Anne says it best, “I’m even starting to knit again which is perfect because I’m going to be a grandma.”

About Anne’s Surgery: Arthritis in the thumb joint is extremely common.  CMC arthroplasty of the thumb is the common surgical procedure used to treat arthritis of the base of the thumb.  It is a procedure which involves removing some of the bone at the base of the thumb. Then, a tendon is taken from a different area of the wrist and forearm and used to recreate the important ligament in the thumb and fill the void that is left by removal of the arthritic portion of the bone.  This provides a nice cushion for the thumb to function without pain instead of the “rusty” hinge that is present prior to the procedure from the arthritis. In a typical week Dr. Pater sees several new patients (5-10) with this problem. If things can be done to manage the symptoms such as cortisone, thumb bracing and arthritis medication then that is the preferred treatment option; nonetheless a definitive solution is surgery. Surgery allows permanent relief of pain and return to function. Dr. Pater performs 60-75 of these procedures every year or about 1-2 every week.